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Ontario Landowners and University Professors become Green Leaders in Helping Ontario Reach 50 Million Trees

September 17, 2009 – “We are stewards of some wonderful land. Our responsibility is to ensure its long-term health and viability.” In one way or another, this has become the “mantra” of the Trees Ontario Green Leaders.

University Professors Andrew and Katherine Graham, from Landsdowne, Ontario, are part of a growing group of Green Leaders who are leading by example in making this province a greener place to live both now and in the future. They are quick to say “stewardship and legacy” are the two main reasons for their involvement.

Living in a UNESCO-designated area called the Frontenac Arch biosphere that runs from Westport to Merrickville to the St. Lawrence River, the Grahams are aware of the area’s unique geology and vegetation. Their land was once used as a cattle farm and is now marginal as a modern farm. The Grahams are committed to conservation and want to make a contribution that is specific, long-term and meaningful for generations to come. For them, planting trees made the most sense.

Their decision was made even easier when they heard Premier McGuinty’s announcement about Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program, the largest single commitment to the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign. The program will see 50 million new trees planted in Ontario by 2025.

Eligible landowners who participate in the 50 Million Tree Program receive hands-on professional help and advice from local tree planting agencies who work directly with them to determine site eligibility, allocate funding and coordinate planting. Trees Ontario is working with the Ministry of Natural Resources to deliver this program.

Since its inception in 2007, 3 million trees have been planted in support of the 50 Million Tree Program.

“I’m pleased to see so many Ontario landowners embrace the Ontario government’s 50 Million Tree Program so quickly and am very encouraged by the number of early commitments for 2010,” says Donna Cansfield, Minister of Natural Resources. “It is further proof that Ontarians want to fight the causes of climate change and help protect their environment.”

Since 2006, the Grahams have planted about 25,000 trees on their land – a mix of black walnut, pine and spruce trees. With the help of the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority and Trees Ontario, 18,000 of those trees have been planted as part of the
50 Million Tree Program.

And the Grahams are not finished. “Our original plan had been to plant trees over a three year period. Our objective was to plant enough open land to build a bridge between two established wooded areas, thereby creating a larger forest with deeper forest qualities for certain habitat protection. However, as we reviewed certain gaps and opportunities, we agreed with the Conservation Authority that another year of planting would add to the quality of our efforts. We definitely want to carry on into 2010.”

The Grahams are hoping their enthusiasm for conservation and the many perks that are available to landowners through programs like the 50 Million Tree Program will rub off on many more Ontarians.

“This is not about ‘free’ trees. This is about stewardship which involves a set of values and having a plan. It takes advance work and developing a master plan. It takes a readiness to partner. We are blessed with great partners and experts in the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority. Once you see what you want to do in your role, then this is the way to go. Marginal land represents a golden opportunity to build living carbon sinks, wildlife habitat and great trails that will ensure you make a real contribution to a healthy future.”

For more information about the 50 Million Tree Program and other tree planting programs and incentives available to Ontario landowners, visit: